The Egg and I



Gibsonburg, Ohio. -- We have an Easter tradition at our house, my son and I, known as ''The Egg.''

Kristofor was seven months old when his first Easter rolled around -- too young for candy and decorated eggs. What to do? The idea of the babe suffering from ''bunny deprivation'' drove me to a desperate move. We went shopping.

Kristofor and his Pooh Bear lounged comfortably in the stroller as we stalked the halls of Atlanta's Lenox Square shopping mall in search of . . . what? I hadn't the foggiest. Until I was arrested in mid-stride by the display in F.A.O. Schwartz's front window.

There it was -- freshly laid on a bed of green cellophane grass by what must have been a gigantic killer-bunny type.

''It'' was an enormous, elaborately decorated papier-mache egg overflowing with fuzzy bunnies and kitties, squishy rubber duckies and pull-toys all the perfect size for a baby's hand.

The stroller and I wheeled around and went inside. ''I want the egg in the window, the one with all the stuff in it.''

''That's a display egg,'' the clerk said, ''and not for sale.''

It takes more than the impossible to swerve a determined mother from her course. I had already decided that my son could not survive Easter without that egg and I was not leaving empty-handed.

Much conversation and my next month's food budget later, Kristofor, Pooh, The Egg and I headed for home. All was right with the world. The Easter Bunny would arrive on schedule.

That Easter morning and for many to come, Kristofor awoke to ''The Egg'' freshly filled in the middle of his bedroom floor where the Easter Bunny had left it.

The egg's contents matured with the boy. I filled it with whatever seemed appropriate to that time in his life.

By age 2 his interests had expanded to matchbox cars and trucks, wind-up carousels with removable little people, firehouses big enough for new kittens to hide in and filling stations with grease racks that cranked up and down.

A few years later I filled the egg with treasure from the hardware store; door latches, combination locks and a variety of tools to fit his young hands. That was the year closet doors got nailed shut and the neighbor's kid got chained to the front porch rail and missed lunch. I fed him so he wouldn't cry while a search party combed the woods for a blond kid with the lock's combination in his pocket.

His tenth Easter found him unpacking fish fossils, beginner chemistry sets and model airplanes from that magical, bottomless egg. Those were the easy years. It got tougher as we went on.

About age 13 he made a special ''Egg'' request. ''Mom, you don't need to shop for my egg this year. I have a better idea.'' I tried not to let on that I might be disappointed if I had to give up being the Easter Bunny.

''See, Mom, it's like this -- I only want one thing.''

''OK, what is it?''

''A one-year subscription to Playboy.''

''In an Easter egg? In that beautiful symbol of childhood innocence you want me to put a magazine filled with naked ladies?''

''But Mom, the magazine has bunnies in it too.'' He always did have a pretty shrewd sense of humor.

As the years rolled by his requests followed the expected pattern.

Fourteen: New fishing gear and a small boat . . .

Fifteen: ''How about a girl, Mom?''

''They don't make 'em small enough.''

Sixteen: ''How about car keys this year, Mom?''

Twenty: ''I need a new waterbed.''

Twenty-two: ''I need two weeks in the Bahamas.''

Twenty-five: ''Fifty acres in the Rockies would be great.''

Sure would.

What next? I have no idea. In a few years ''The Egg'' will probably be working its way into the next generation. I'm curious to know what his kid will ask for around ''Egg 13.''

Elizabeth Schuett is a writer and teacher.

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